Thursday, February 08, 2007

Even Smaller Crumbs

All I seem to have to do is to save up a few tiny items for one of these collections of trivia and the very next day I find a bunch more. Almost immediately after pushing the "publish" button on the last batch, I was walking around the 'hood and found a new Nike painting. But that'll have to wait...


Meanwhile, it's that time again, and for the first year in recent memory the Potsdamer Platz public transportation is open for the Berlinale, Berlin's once-mighty film festival. Two things I never do is go to the Berlinale and read the pitiful excuse for an English-language magazine here, the Ex-Berliner, but I do get a kick out of their sadsack music editor, David Strauss, and he's gotten the no doubt unpaid job of blogging the Berlinale for them. It could be fun to read, and so if you're interested, I suggest you click here.


Last year, out of nowhere, I got a two-Euro coin that looked like this:

The building is the Holstentor in Lübeck, pretty much the symbol of that city, and seeing it on the back of these special coins was, in fact, the only way to see it during much of last year, because the real thing was covered by scaffolding. Just why Germany would choose to change its coinage design only a few years into introducing it I had no idea, but last night I was in some seedy dive or another, and got this in change:

It took me a bit of surfing around to find out that this is Schwerin Castle, representing the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and to find an explanation, rendered in the stiffest possible English translation. Basically, the various Federal states of Germany take over the annual presidency of the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, and get their own coins as a perk. Germany's the only country doing this, which is further proof that a lot of the Euro system was designed by them. Why else would we have a 20-cent, instead of a 25-cent, coin, not to mention the tiny, confusing 2-centers?

Of course, what they're really really good for, these special €2 coins, is making cashiers -- especially outside of Germany -- hand you your change back and tell you it's not good.


Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of "French" cafes around town? There must be a dozen of them which've sprung up in the past six months, particularly around trendy areas like Weinbergsweg, Kollwitzplatz, and so on. What's really weird, though, is that there's nothing particularly French about anything but the wine they offer (and that's usually not so hot), and the ones that pretend to have a little deli section don't seem to have a clue what French food is. One I've got my eye on, though, is just down the street from me on Torstr. In the former Döner Kebap joint that had the weird poem about children being the future of the world on its wall, someone's opening something called Bandol, and they've been installing vintage meat lockers and a blackboard wall for writing the menu, plus diner-y chrome stools -- and two huge TV monitors above the door. Or that's what it looks like from the street. We'll see (if "we" can afford it, that is) what it turns out to be. Meanwhile, though, to date it looks like "French" is the new "Mexican."


Places We Won't Be Dining: Spotted on Marienburger Str.: Pizza Pimp.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, no french boulangeries or pâtisseries yet, although crêperies seem to be multiplying, too, and I do like crêpes.

Anonymous said...

Hm, of all the big film festivals I've been to, I always found the Berlinale to be the most audience-friendly and most film-focussed (as in bullshit-free) festival. Probably has something to do with the miserable weather. People actually want to go inside and watch movies as opposed to Cannes, where you don't really feel like leaving the beach. It's also pretty easy to get tickets, so you have about 500 to 600 people in the audience, only half of which are jaded industry types, the other half regular film lovers, which makes for great screenings. It's really my favorite festival out there.

Anonymous said...

About those €2 coins: it's not just Germany...

(If there's a coin which should be banned this minute, it's the British 2p one - huge, and virtually worthless).

Anonymous said...

i enjoy the Berlinale as well. It is always a treat to have so many films suddenly thrust upon us, and there are always a few winners in the bunch. my film auteur friends in the states are always jealous! I was dismayed when it looked like i would be traveling for the job during the this year's festival, but a sudden change of schedule means i can now spend too much money and energy rushing around from one kino to the next!

Ed Ward said...

Okay, I should admit that my indifference to the Berlinale is mostly due to my indifference to films, which come in about dead last in the arts I consume and enjoy. Not sure why this is, but it is. I started seeing lots more movies once video rental happened.

Of course, I once admitted that to a filmmaker I met here and he said "You're my worst $%#$ nightmare."

mountpenguin: (puts on Johnny Carson voice) I did not know that!

Anonymous said...

berinale and ex-berliner - two of the few things i actually like about this shoddy city.

Anonymous said...

a nice french cafe which serves good quiche is amuse geule (sp?) on sredskistr. opposite the kulturbrauerei not far from kollwitzplatz. run by actual french people and surprisingly good value for €

daggi said...

And the 'food' from "Pizza Pimp" is also what's served in the otherwise reasonably pleasant bar "Tomsky" on the Winsstraße. So don't even bother ordering anying more complicated than some breadsticks. It'll arrive cold and disgusting on the back of a moped 30 minutes later.